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chad
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language is our skin

[ Edited ]
To all:

And I think I mentioned the above before, but one "Moe" time. Sometimes we can see language on the surface(hieroglyphics, tattoos, scrimhaw, parchment --would all be examples) and sometimes it is invisible to the eye, like the surface of the ocean. That is, we can sometimes see interactions between air and sea in the form of whitewater or a horizon line, or a whale's spout, but there are always interactions between and air and water that our invisible to our own eyes. And finally, that invisible layer, because it is such, is something that can deceive. Philosophy, government, religion, business can bind us, sometimes unknowingly bind us, through language. So language is that area "inbetween" an interface, or someone that works on a canal, something that cannot be trusted, something that can lead us to our own demise, something like the ocean.

We're finally getting a complete picture of Moby, I was thinking of doing Paradise Lost this month of May, but I may be busy doing some lifeguarding...

Chad

PS- The reason why I think the novel was done so brilliantly. Ahab had to esacpe those forces which bound him to the Pequod and sought immortality by placing himself directly between civilization and the sun, where the white whale spouts! But not before he drops a tear into the ocean, and, ahoy maties! to go back to my original opening: the trouble we may cause ourselves and civilization when we feel.

Message Edited by chad on 04-26-200712:27 PM

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enetrprise and CEO salaries

The question would be why people actually go out and kill whales for a living- at its most basic. This time, however, the Pequod chose to seek vengeance on a white whale, contrary to business objectives. Ahab maintians order by nailing a gold coin to the mast. The gold coin is much like a chance for a cushy CEO salary. Interestingly, our federal goverment has considered CEO salary caps.

Yours,
Chad
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Re: enetrprise and CEO salaries, oops- that would be enterprise and CEO salaries

[ Edited ]
Sorry about typos. I'm also looking for a fun grammar book, but I don't think there is such a thing. Correct grammar? - kind of important, I guess.

Enterprise- it is interesting how the Pequod functioned like a living organism, or in many ways resembled the whale, and, it's difficult to understand the connections within the entity formed. I think this is true of any business and/or even government.

See ya!
Chad

Message Edited by chad on 05-01-200704:20 PM

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Communism

It's also a little about communism- not necessarily was this a philosphy or a political ideology that was binding men and women at the time. But to Melville, this is probably what it would be.

The icons and colors of communism seemed to flow naturally from a world history- like a pennant streaming for the heart of Tashtego as he momentarily pauses with a hammer in the last day of the Pequod. The hammers which built civilization were difficult to rise above. Ahab was bound by the abilities of his crew and by abilities of those who built the ship and all the knowledge and labor of previous generations. On the last day, he orders that a red fag be nailed to the mast, but he finally succombed to what the masses were, what they could buid up to that point-- but not because we or the world was necessarily communist or becoming what I would consider to be such.

Chad
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language as a skin

hi,
just checking in....
Last week when I was reading some lit crit stuff the idea of language as a skin came up in the text. I still didn't quite get a grip on that idea but I can see how language can help to create a container and lack of language builds up a barrier. In one way or the other there is always some communication going on, non verbal in that case unless we speak about severe autism but even there is a communication hidden, I dare say. It is just perceived as dangerous and uncomfortable, almost life threatening, therefore the total withdrawal. I am not sure what this have to do with whales :smileyvery-happy: They seem to be social and communicative.

ziki
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Re: language as a skin

The language wraps an invisible layer of skin around humanity, populations, cultures, whatever you like. The whale has a natural invisible skin. The language also wrapped an invisble layer around whales like Moby Dick, giving them characters and personalities.

Chad
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Re: language as a skin

lack of language builds up a barrier-

Lack of communication is also in there-- kind of like the Prego spaghetti sauce commercials, it's all in there! A couple of examples might be: the silence of the sailors at the Spouter Inn or the feel of Ahab's command, although he wasn't present on deck. This might be a different kind of nonverbal communication that you might be familiar with, but something Melville might have wanted us to think about. The reputation of Moby was built up by language, or words, of course.

Chad
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Tashteego

So.... at most Ahab could not be better than an Indian taught to use a hammer to either nail a pennant, or build a ship like the Pequod.

Chad
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Re: Tashtego

Tashtego is found at the top of the mast on the Pequod and he is symbolic of civilization sometimes not being able to move higher than the masses or a common denominator. In this case, it would be an Indian taught to use a hammer.

Chad
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algorithms

[ Edited ]
...That's an interesting one. I'm not sure Melville would see algorithms as much more than the development of a new language binding the fates of humanity.
Algorithms certainly have their roots in philosophy, and, I think Melville would agree, that early algorithmists might have fared no better than Ahab in trying to bring people to a new era, to reach new heights or hunt the white whale-- Ahab obviously had some communication issues on board the Pequod; some felt he was insane. Einstein is also interesting case in relation to Moby, I think.

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 06-10-2007 01:46 PM
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Just one more quickie

I think the paradox, tragedy or whatever you want to call it and which Melville writes about, is that we are no better than those whom we employ to build our buildings or our civilization. The masses employed by the aristocracy and the architect, for example, or the masses employed by the few, have a tendency to revolt and level that which we build. We cannot go too high- everyone hasn't been taught to be that architect, for example, and someone has to build. This is always a great topic for writers, but kind of tragic, I think.

Chad
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Pyramids

And with the above you wonder if civilization took a turn for the worse in its construction of the pyramids. Construction of the pyramids were for a dead aristocracy and utilized slave labor. In this sense, the pyramid is a physical manifestaion of an interface, a tomb, or death- the gate to the netherworld, so to speak. And you wonder if the pyramids' construction will eventually cause our own demise or if it resembles the painting at the Spouter, for example.

Chad
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Re: Pyramids, 9/11 and our inovolvement in the middle east

[ Edited ]
Ishmael starts out by stating a few headlines such as, "War in Afghanistan". You get the sense that Melville wants us to realize that we are connected to the Middle East- we certainly are now. But we are connected to that Arabia in perhaps ways that we do not understand, and, perhaps the whale and the whaling enterprises of New England provided Melville with the beginning of an understanding that we are all connected. So, the construction of the great pyramids led to the development of a religion which eventually led to the destruction of the world trade center and Nature's greatest construction, the whale, for example.

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 06-13-2007 01:56 PM
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religion

Melville sees religion as something which binds human beings and usually has one centrality, god, or the sun, or fire, to name a few. I think Melville mentions the Zoroastrians which place fire as the center of the religion, and, I think it is said that all other religions seemed to branch off this one in particular. Judaism and Christianity both emanated from the Egyptian culture which enslaved others to build, among other things. Pyramids are representative of the apex of civilization and those found at the top of the pyramid are often at the top bit also, so to speak, at the "outskirts" of society, facing a new barrier or interface.

Hope that helps!
Chad
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layers of skin

[ Edited ]
I think that you're supposed to see the world or as just layers of skin, like the whale's layers of skin, but connected layers, and layers that can often be difficult to distinguish. So, I surround my own skin with a layer of wood, my house, which is surrounded by the earth's atmosphere, which is surrounded by my own galaxy, etc. etc. Language can be a layer of skin, like I said. Sometimes it becomes visible--tattoos are real popular these days. Tattoos can be symbols or images,like paintings, but are also often words. Melville writes about the tragedy of our own skin. We need to build a barrier from the world to survive, but this barrier can also lead to our own demise-- Nature kind of self-destructing. We can become too large within a layer of language which connects, harmonizes, sychronizes, etc. I keep adding some more...

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 06-16-2007 10:44 AM
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Scrimshaw

And to the above:

Scrimshaw is also interesting- where the images and writing are inscribed in the whale's bone, and represents the thinnest layer of skin or the closet representaion of an interface or death-- something which can lead to our own demise. It also derved to connect the sailors and culture of the time.

Chad
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The number 12

We conceptualize time using the number 12. But our concept of time is dependent on our revolution around the sun. If we leave orbit, there would be a new concept of time. In essence, Ahab attempts to pierce the very fabric of time with his scary homemade harpoon of 12 barbs or points, hoping to escape his own eventual demise, and possibly, the demise of the Peqoud or more broadly, human civilization.

Chad
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Democracy

[ Edited ]
I think Melville at one point in the story compares democracy to the sun. Democracy, like the sun, pulls us or attracts, and, once captured, it might be difficult to leave it's domain or orbit, if you will. I watch the budget of NASA carefully-- leaving our own orbit is hashed out in the congressional budget. NASA may also be supported by business, but business is also subject to governmental control- always a big issue. This point and maybe a few others might be something that people find distateful, but I hoped you loved the story as did I.

Chad

PS- So, as Melville states, sit yourselves on the moons of Saturn, and, if you do, remember that the whale took you there.

Message Edited by chad on 06-21-2007 11:26 AM
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Ahab

Ahab was bouund to the whaling business through family ties and possibly religion. I think it is difficult for family members to leave a family business, especially if the family has had a particularly long legacy in business. Again, Moby is about the forces that bind you to fate, and one strong force is this notion of family-- I believe Ahab confesses this sentiment to Starbuck and a tear falls into the ocean. But when Ahab turns to face Starbuck, Starbuck has already left- communication is somewhat impaired.

Chad
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My skin is my command

[ Edited ]
Someone said,"My skin is my command." Well, that's right too. But remember that the skin has pores or openings which connect the human to his environment, like the whale's spout. Examples include, ears, eyes and noses, but Melville also talks about the windows of a house or canals, which connect bodies of water. The points of connection are important to our survival, but they can also lead to our own demise. Ahab essentially becomes insane from his inability to penetrate that barrier of language- the harpoon he crafts would be ineffective. Language is something which we sense through our eyes and ears; it may lead us astray, bind us, or possibly create an inpenetrable layer of skin. Language is also certainly something which connects us all.

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 06-26-2007 01:44 PM
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